The Esmeraldas woodstar, a hummingbird endemic to Ecuador, is a mysterious, range-restricted, forest-dwelling species with highly localized populations. Locally known asolibrí de Esmeraldas or estrellita esmeraldeña, this hummingbird is tiny, with striking violet, green, and white plumage.

Little is known about this secretive species, as it seems to disappear from known locations during nonbreeding months, but its preferred evergreen forest environment is one of the most threatened forest habitats in the Neotropics. The remaining habitat for the species has been reduced by 99 percent and is severely fragmented due to rapid deforestation as a result of logging and agriculture clearance. The Esmeraldas woodstar was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1990 — after not being sighted since 1912.

In 1991, the International Council for Bird Preservation petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Esmeraldas woodstar under the Endangered Species Act. Finally, after 24 years and extensive Center legal involvement, in 2013 the Service listed the Esmeraldas woodstar as endangered.


Esmeraldas woodstar photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Bertdichrozona